Monday, February 23, 2009

Growling Lions & Hovering Birds - Isaiah 31 part 2

"For thus says the LORD to me,
'As the lion growls over his prey,
against which a band of shepherds is called out,
will not be terrified at their voice,
nor disturbed at their noise,
so will the LORD of hosts come down
to wage war on Mount Zion.'
Like hovering birds so the LORD of hosts
will protect and deliver it;
He will pass over and rescue it.
Return to Him from whom
you have deeply defected,
O sons of Israel."
(vs 4-6)

I had to pause for a moment this morning to think on these two descriptions of our God. He is on the one hand described as a growling lion and on the other as a hovering bird. To those who rage and rail against His Kingship He is as a growling lion. To those who are His beloved children He is as a mother bird, hovering and protecting her young. Quite a contrast!

Notice the poor attempts of the "band of shepherds" to chase the lion away. They call out and yell at him. He is not bothered in the least by their clamouring! They rage and roar and take their stand but it is for naught! Throughout chapter 31 I've been drawn to Psalm 2 as a parallel passage. Hear its declaration:

"Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers of the earth take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Annointed... He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then he will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury." (Ps 2: 1-5)

Their noise will not terrify the Lion of Judah, yet His growl will soon be turned against them and he will wage war with them. They will "stumble" and "fall" at the very breath of His indignation.

Yet, notice the beautiful contrast as this growling Lion is called His people's hovering bird. The picture here is incredible to me. It is that of a mother bird tending with all diligence to the needs of her young brood. She hovers over her little chicks, defending and protecting them from the enemy.

A few months ago a friend of mine who has chickens shared a remarkable story with me. As she looked out her kitchen window she noticed a chicken hawk circling over their driveway. On the driveway she saw one of their hens who had just had some new biddies. The mother quickly gathered her babies underneath her wings and then began to fend off the attacks of the hawk. That enemy hawk desperately wanted to destroy those chicks but that mother was not about to give them up. My friend said it was quite a battle but the hawk eventually left and not one of those little ones was lost.

The Scripture holds forth this picture in several places:

  • "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them; He carried them on His pinions." (Dt 32:11)
  • "May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge." (Ruth 2:12)
  • "He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." (Ps 91:4)

Isaiah points out that, like this hovering bird, the LORD will protect and deliver His people. He is not willing that any of them be lost. (Mt 18:14, Jn 18:9)

God is as a growling lion to His enemies and as the protective wings of a mother bird to His children. To one He is a terror to the other a comfort. Which is He to me?

Thankful for the shadow of His wings,


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